UC San Diego News Center


Regional Transportation Projects to Transform Access to Campus


Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Over the next few years, a series of regional transportation projects will occur at and around UC San Diego, transforming how students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors will access campus. The projects will accomplish everything from bringing the trolley into the heart of campus to constructing a new transit center and expanding the Genesee Avenue Bridge and Interstate 5 interchange.

In an effort to keep the campus community up-to-date on these projects and the related impacts, the On The Go website has been launched. The site offers important details on each transportation project and will be regularly updated with helpful information and resources.

“These projects are going to change how we get to, from and around UC San Diego,” said Gary C. Matthews, Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning. “Construction will be significant in some cases, but we’re making every effort to minimize the impact to our community.”


The university has been working closely with the regional partners involved in these projects, which include the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the City of San Diego. These projects, which have been planned for years, will benefit the campus by easing street traffic and parking demands, improving air quality and better connecting the university with the greater San Diego community.

First Major Project Takes Shape

The Gilman Transit Center was the first in this series of regional transportation projects. Construction began in mid-June with the transit center becoming operational just before the start of the fall quarter. The new transportation resource for the campus community includes dedicated bike lanes, larger queuing areas and bus turnouts that allow for easier flow of traffic around buses and shuttles. The transit center serves an enhanced network of MTS buses as well as North County Transit District buses and campus shuttles.

“We were very pleased by how well construction went on the transit center,” said Matthews. “It became operational in approximately three months, which is half the typical construction time for a project of this size.”

The project’s timely implementation was due to extensive coordination between UC San Diego and its partners as well as a phased construction plan. “We could open the center to the public and add in non-essential elements later,” explained Matthews.

These additional elements include shade canopies, permanent lighting, variable-message signs and further landscape improvements, all of which will be phased in over the next several months. UC San Diego is also currently working with SANDAG and MTS to identify potential solutions to improve queuing at the transit center.

“We are aware of issues with queuing as people wait for buses and shuttles,” said Robert Clossin, director of UC San Diego’s Physical and Community Planning department. “Once all the construction fencing comes down there will be more room, but we are also working very hard to make other adjustments that will improve riders’ experience.”

These adjustments include relocating trashcans, modifying signage and determining operational solutions for the Hillcrest and City shuttles.

A New Look for an Important Interchange

The next project to get underway will be a major expansion of the Genesee Avenue Bridge and Interstate 5 interchange, which is being implemented by Caltrans. Construction is expected to begin in late January 2015 and is anticipated to take two-and-a-half years at minimum to complete. The bridge will be widened from five to 10 lanes, and the existing freeway on- and off-ramps will also be widened and reconfigured. The project will also add a dedicated path for the exclusive use of bicyclists and pedestrians. Once completed, local traffic circulation and freeway access will improve.

During construction, Genesee will not be closed, but I-5 will likely close periodically at night. Traffic will be re-routed as needed.

“Once we know the projected schedule of construction, we’ll be able to share more details with the campus community on what to expect regarding potential detours and more,” said Clossin. “Our goal is to help the process go as smoothly as possible.”

The Trolley Comes to Town

Another long-awaited project that will begin in 2015 is the 11-mile extension of the MTS Trolley Blue Line. With the extension, the Blue Line will bring service from Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego north to University City. UC San Diego will have two trolley stops—one at Pepper Canyon, serving west campus, and one at Voigt Drive, serving east campus. There will also be a stop at the VA Medical Center. Construction is expected to start in the fall with trolley service anticipated to begin in 2019.

“Bringing the trolley to campus is going to have a profound impact on the student experience,” said Kyle Heiskala, director of transportation for Associated Students. “Students will be able to take advantage of all the diverse opportunities this region has to offer without having a car. It will even change where students could potentially live. The possibilities are endless.”